Parshah Tol’dot – Torah Reading for Genesis 26.19-20

B’rashith (Genesis) 26.19-20 “And Isaac’s servants digged in the valley, and found there a well of living water. And the shepherds of Gerar quarreled with Isaac’s shepherds, saying, “The water is ours”; so he named the well Esek, because they had contended with him.”

Throughout the books of the prophets of Israel and as well as within the Talmud, the Torah itself is metaphorically compared to and even called water. Just as water has the ability to convert desolate and nonproductive desert land into a veritable Garden of Eden, so too can Torah fill the void in our hearts and souls and make us productive holy people.

Torah, like the water that represents it, has this enormous regenerative power.

YOCHANAN: saying, “The water is ours” – the “interpretation” is ours –

Here, we see the inhabitants of the land, Jews, Christians and Arabs contending over “the water” that is, over the [Jewish version of the] Akeida (Binding of Isaac) vs. Christian’s interpretation, (Romans 9:7, 8 Romans 8:9 ) vs. Islam’s interpretation of the “Test of Avraham” (B’rashith-Genesis 22.1-19) as celebrated with Eid al-Adha, the “Festival of the Sacrifice” –

The Akeida

And it came to pass after these things, that God tested Avraham, and said to him, Avraham; and he said, ‘Here I am. And he said, Take now your son, your only son Yitzchak, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell you. (Bereishit 22:1-2)

“When confronted with the Divine imperative, Avraham does not flinch; he marches to the place that God told him; the word of God would be fulfilled. The Torah only tells of Avraham’s actions, and the narrative gives us no sense that Avraham hesitated in any way: Avraham awakens early and sets out on his macabre mission. We are not made privy to the thoughts racing through Avraham’s mind.”

Clearly, from the text of the Torah, we see that Avraham “took the knife to slay his son” and did not “withold his son from HaShem;” so we can also see that Avraham passed the test and in HaShem’s sight, Avraham gave over to HaShem his “only son” that is, the son of promise – “everything that mattered to him!”

“And they came to the place which God had told him of; and Abraham built the altar there, and laid the wood in order, and bound Isaac his son, and laid him on the altar, upon the wood. And Abraham stretched forth his hand, and took the knife to slay his son. And the angel of the LORD called unto him out of heaven, and said: ‘Abraham, Abraham.’ And he said: ‘Here am I.’ And he said: ‘Lay not thy hand upon the lad, neither do thou any thing unto him; for now I know that thou art a God-fearing man, seeing thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only son, from Me.’ And the angel of the LORD called unto Abraham a second time out of heaven, and said: ‘By Myself have I sworn, saith the LORD, because thou hast done this thing, and hast not withheld thy son, thine only son, that in blessing I will bless thee, and in multiplying I will multiply thy seed as the stars of the heaven, and as the sand which is upon the seashore; and thy seed shall possess the gate of his enemies; and in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because thou hast hearkened to My voice.’ ” B’rashith 22.9-12, 15-18

Eid al-Adha (Arabic: عيد الأضحى‎‎ ʿīd al-aḍḥā, [ʕiːd ælˈʔɑdˤħæː], “Festival of the Sacrifice”), also called the “Sacrifice Feast”, is the second of two Muslim holidays celebrated worldwide each year, and considered the holier of the two. It honors the willingness of Ibrahim (Abraham) to sacrifice his son, as an act of submission to God’s command. Before he sacrificed his son God intervened by sending his angel Jibra’il (Gabriel), who then put a sheep in his son’s place. The meat from the sacrificed animal is divided into three parts: the family retains one third of the share; another third is given to relatives, friends and neighbors; and the remaining third is given to the poor and needy.

One of the main trials of Abraham’s life was to face the command of God to sacrifice his dearest possession, his son. The son is not named in the Quran, but Muslims believe it to be Ishmael, though it is mentioned as Isaac in the Bible. Upon hearing this command, Abraham prepared to submit to will of God. During this preparation, Shaitan (the Devil) tempted Abraham and his family by trying to dissuade them from carrying out God’s commandment, and Abraham drove Satan away by throwing pebbles at him. In commemoration of their rejection of Satan, stones are thrown at symbolic pillars during the Stoning of the Devil during Hajj rites.”


“Among early Muslim scholars, however, there was a dispute over the identity of the son, who is not named in the Quranic text. The argument of those early scholars who believed it was Isaac rather than Ishmael (notably ibn Qutaybah and al-Tabari) was that “God’s perfecting his mercy on Abraham and Isaac” referred to his making Abraham his friend, and to his rescuing Isaac.” Source: Wikipedia – Binding of Isaac


The Lesson From the Akeida: HaShem Abhorrs Human Sacrifice –

“In The Binding of Isaac, Religious Murders & Kabbalah, Lippman Bodoff argues that Abraham never intended to actually sacrifice his son, and that he had faith that God had no intention that he do so. Rabbi Ari Kahn (on the Orthodox Union website) elaborates this view as follows: Isaac’s death was never a possibility — not as far as Abraham was concerned, and not as far as God was concerned. God’s commandment to Abraham was very specific, and Abraham understood it very precisely: Isaac was to be “raised up as an offering”, and God would use the opportunity to teach humankind, once and for all, that human sacrifice, child sacrifice, is not acceptable. This is precisely how the sages of the Talmud (Taanit 4a) understood the Akeida. Citing the Prophet Jeremiah’s exhortation against child sacrifice (Chapter 19), they state unequivocally that such behavior “never crossed God’s mind”, referring specifically to the sacrificial slaughter of Isaac.”

YOCHANAN: The Akeida marks the final transition point in Avraham’s life from “haIvri, a Hebrew from the other side” (the other side of the River Euphrates and Ur of Chaldees – a culture steeped in pagan idolatry & child sacrifice, etc.); a “stripping away” of those cultural influences to absolute Monotheism, a total trust in HaShem to keep His Promise as found in B’rashith 15 and 18!

Soul of the Torah: Insights of the Chasidic Masters of the Weekly Torah Portions (Victor Cohen).

1. Torah — Elixir of Life. “And Isaac’s servants dug in the valley and found living waters.” The S’fas Emes commented that the Torah is called “water” and is therefore found everywhere. As is true with seeking water, it depends upon how deep one wishes to dig and how sincerely one wants to have Torah. Just as water is the elixir of life, so is Torah. 


About johnmhummasti

Was the victim of Human Rights Abuses (e.g. Hummasti v Bell, 98-3651-JTC) while a patient in the custody of the US Attorney General and hospitalized under 18 USC 4241 through 4244, et seq.! Interests: Biblical Studies, Talmudic Studies, Dead Sea (Yam Melek [Sea of Kings Soferim]) Scrolls, Scribal (Stam Sofer) Traditions, Cantorial (Hazzan) Psalms (Tehillim). Illustrated Calligraphy (e.g. Ketuvim [Jewish Marriage Contracts], Poetry). Self Published Manuscripts and Screen Plays at yhummastiscribd web site:
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1 Response to Parshah Tol’dot – Torah Reading for Genesis 26.19-20

  1. If At First You Do Not Succeed, Keep Trying. The Chofetz Chaim explains that the Torah elaborates on the wells that Isaac found to teach us that we should not give up in discouragement when we run into dificulties. When Isaac dug and did not find water, he kept digging in other places until he was finally successful. This is a practical lesson for all areas of our lives, both spiritual and material. We must be persistent when things do not work out at first. The reason many of us fail to accomplish something is because we give up too soon. If we have the determination to keep trying, eventually we will succeed.


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